More On Timeouts

My recent post on timeouts caused quite some very interesting discussion both in the comments on the post and on the facebook page.  The discussion was certainly thought provoking and I found myself thinking about it just a few days later when my team was down 0-3.  Do I really need to take a timeout now, ‘knowing’ that we are just as likely to win a sideout without one and I might ‘need’ one later on.  Of course, if I follow the same logic all the way through I don’t ‘need’ one at the end of a set either, but we’ll just ignore that for the moment.

Today by accident, I came across another study that replicated the findings of the one I quoted in my post.  Someone by the name of Paul Arrington studied men’s and women’s NCAA volleyball, and U-18 and U-13 club volleyball in the USA.  He found that for the first three levels, sideout percentages were virtually identical after a timeout and on average.  Only at the U-13 did he see any difference in the the sideout percentage, with a jump of 8% after a timeout.

As I wrote originally, it is entirely possible that timeouts have no actually effect and we coaches are just trying to create a narrative that makes us more important than we are.  While I don’t (completely) agree with that premise, this is a little more evidence to support it.

On a side note, it occurs to me that every post / article / comment makes the assumptions that timeouts are only made by the receiving team.  Perhaps timeouts by the serving team is where we can make a greater difference.

By the way, I didn’t take that timeout at 0-3 either time.  But the second time, I did take one at 0-4.  We won both sets so I must have been right.

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7 thoughts on “More On Timeouts

  1. Alexis Lebedew

    This may have been covered in your last post (in which case I apologise), but it is limiting to think that the ‘outcomes’ of a timeout are simply winning or losing the next point. It is certainly possible to think that some information given during a timeout can have an influence on the game for more than one rally.

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    1. markleb Post author

      I did make the point in the original post that affecting momentum was only one reason to take a timeout, but all of the discussion has been focussed around the momentum factor. That is interesting by itself.
      Obviously it is possible for information imparted during a timeout to have longer lasting impact. But would a coach take a timeout immediately this information came to light, or would he wait for an ‘appropriate moment’ to stop the game?

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  2. Mark

    I agree with Alexis, in that a timeout can have an influence on more than just the next point if the information given helps the team. With that being said, i like the thought of calling Time-outs when you are serving, so that the coach can give guidance on blocking schemes and defence. I don’t think that i have seen anyone do that.

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  3. David

    I don’t use time outs to try and influence our opponents or what they are doing. Time outs are my chance to intimately communicate with my team. Nothing I say in that huddle is going to effect our opponents but changes in my team based on the time-out might effect them. And IMO if players are older than first/second year players and have been properly trained in practice that 30 second delay shouldn’t physically or mentally effect anything they are doing either.

    If our opponents are on a scoring run and my team still has their heads up, are talking constructively to each other and trying their best to handle the situation they are in – I let them try to work through the situation on the court. I may make a couple strategy adjustments or make a shift in our defense. I use time-outs when their attitudes slip, or confidence starts lagging, or the talk on the court becomes strained or snippy.

    I did use a timeout once just to piss off an opposing coach. We had a lot of delays in our game – scorekeeping problems, referee problems, net problems, lots of balls on the court, etc. Just a lot of stupid random stuff going wrong. The other coach was getting really irritated and yelled “Can we just play this game without any more delays?” So i called a time out…

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    1. markleb Post author

      As always, David, I like where you’re coming from. But I will ask one question…
      When you think of something you want to tell you team in a timeout, do you call the timeout at that moment, or do you call it at another time?

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  4. Sue

    If we are looking at longer term objectives, I would think that calling a time out to emphasize a particular skill is valuable. Pointing out cues that opposition players are giving, and tweaking technique even with well experienced players can be worthwhile time out uses. I liked to use them at times to give players a chance to work things out with themselves as well.

    We had a coach who would always call a time out at 4 and 10! A New Zealand men’s coach tried to call a time out before the first serve of the match!

    Whatever you do, if you win , it’s because you have good players that you have been able to communicate effectively with – if you lose, it’s the coach’s fault!

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  5. Pingback: When to call a timeout | Coaching Volleyball

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